Legal Guidance and Policy

BCJ issues dear colleague letters to clarify or highlight legal obligations or best practices on significant issues. As the top law enforcement officer of the state under the California constitution, the Attorney General issues law enforcement bulletins through the California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement to clarify the obligations of local law enforcement officers.

Dear Colleague Letters

Foster Youth Information Sharing
Federal and state law encourages – and in many cases state law requires – the sharing of data and records to ensure that foster youth receive appropriate supports and services to address their needs. To promote the productive sharing of information, the letter summarized state and federal law concerning four issues:

  • School official’s access to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Foster Match Information;
  • Information that local education agencies (LEAs) may and must share with child welfare agencies (CWAs);
  • Information that CWAs may and must share with LEAs; and
  • Information that may and must be shared with caregivers, even if the caregiver is not the foster child’s educational rights holder.

February 12, 2015 Letter re Oversight and Enforcement of Laws Related to Foster Youth
The letter outlines rights of foster children relating to home environment and education. It is paramount that state, county and local agencies throughout the State guarantee these rights by fulfilling these legal obligations, including but not limited to:

  • Meeting licensing requirements;
  • Ensuring quality of care;
  • Reporting child abuse;
  • Investigating suspected child abuse cases;
  • Protecting foster youth against discrimination; and
  • Ensuring equal access to education for youth in dependency and juvenile justice systems.

AB 699
The Attorney General's Office issued the following guidance pursuant to Assembly Bill 699 (AB 699) by joint authors Assemblymembers Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco).
AB 699 was passed to address the fear and confusion expressed by school officials in the wake of the Trump Administration’s immigration enforcement-related activities and anti-immigrant rhetoric. The guide describes courses of actions that public schools and their administrators can take when interacting with officers who are enforcing immigration laws. It also encourages school administrators to contact the Attorney General’s Office for additional support.

The checklist is available in Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, and Arabic.

April 2018 Promoting a Safe and Secure Learning Environment for All: Guidance and Model Policies to Assist California’s K-12 Schools in Responding to Immigration Issues
This guidance helps California’s public K-12 schools and other local educational agencies develop policies to protect the rights of undocumented students and families. It provides recommendations for handling personal information from students and their families. It also provides guidance on how to respond to: information requests regarding immigration status; a warrant or court order regarding immigration enforcement; immigration agents requesting access to school grounds; hate crimes related to national origin; and the detention of a student’s family member.

October 2018 Promoting a Safe and Secure Campus for All: Guidance and Model Policies to Assist California’s Colleges and Universities in Responding to Immigration Issues
This guide provides California’s higher education institutions with the information and resources necessary to provide safe, welcoming environments for all students and safeguard the rights of students and families. The guides discuss procedures for responding to actions and requests for information by any law-enforcement officer for purposes of enforcing immigration laws. The guides also addresses policies for responding to hate crimes and bullying that targets immigrants.

February 4, 2019 Letter Reminding Schools Obligations Re Discrimination in School Discipline
The guidance letter highlighted state and federal laws that protect students from discriminatory and excessive discipline. The letter reminded school districts that decades of research has consistently shown that students subject to out-of-school disciplinary removals suffer significant adverse impacts, including decreased educational achievement and a significantly higher likelihood of arrest, school dropout, and juvenile justice involvement. The letter also discussed effective, research based alternatives to out of school suspensions and encouraged those with information about potentially unlawful discipline practices to contact the Bureau.

April 11, 2023 Guidance Regarding Laws Governing School Closures and Best Practices for Implementation in California
This statewide guidance outlines school districts’ legal obligations and best practices when considering school closures, including mergers, and consolidations. School districts that follow the legal mandates and best practices described will take a step towards providing equal educational opportunity to all students, and begin to remedy the continuing harms of segregation. The guidance also provides best practices to improve community trust and parent engagement and reduce a district’s legal risk before, during, and after the closure selection process.

Law Enforcement Bulletins

December 9, 2016 Probation Officer Obligations for Probation Youth in Foster Care
This bulletin outlines probation officers’ legal responsibilities to foster youth and young adults in the foster care system who are under their supervision. The bulletin made clear that foster youth in the probation system have rights under both state and federal law, and that probation officers have obligations with regard to their placement and care, including identifying relatives for placement and recommending and implementing least restrictive placements.

October 16, 2017 Law enforcement obligations for implementing Senate Bill 1322 and protecting commercially sexually exploited children
This bulletin provides guidance to local law enforcement on how to implement Senate Bill 1322, which protects commercially sexually exploited children. SB 1322 amended Penal Code Sections 647 and 653.2 and minors who are loitering or might otherwise be charged with prostitution must be treated as commercially sexually exploited children under the Welfare and Institutions Code, rather than as perpetrators of crimes.